Thursday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Ephesians 4:20-24

Putting Off and On

We begin by repeating 4:20 which we read yesterday: “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” meaning that we are no longer to walk as the Gentiles or pagans walk.  Now that we have been born again of the Spirit by saving faith in Christ Jesus, we are to walk in a completely different manner.

This manner of walking, about which we are to speak, involves two truths: one is that the way in which we are to walk as believers is impossible for us in and of ourselves.  The Christian knows this; indeed, it was his sins and his native inability and weakness against his sinful nature that drove him to Christ.  But a second truth is that since coming to know Christ, he has given us of his Holy Spirit so that, relying on the Spirit’s power working within, we may so walk in the way which was before impossible for us.  And because of the Spirit’s presence within, Paul may exhort us: “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires…and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  In other words, “Be what you are!”  As people who have been born again, we are new creations” (1 Corinthians 5:17).  The shattered image of God is slowly being restored through the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit as we are recreated after the image of Christ.  We say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), and with Paul, “I die every day” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

So here Paul uses the metaphor of putting off the old self and putting on the new self.  In speaking of “self,” it is clear that he is not using this metaphor as if speaking of something as temporary as “clothing,” which we put off and on every day.  No.  In speaking of “self,” Paul includes our very lives, thoughts, words, and actions—anything that is of the old self—that self which we were before our rebirth—must be “put off,” and thus, disposed of.  That self was indeed put to death at our conversion, but we must now be certain that the works of that old self are put to death.  And we must now put on the new self—that self that is after the manner of Christ, that is, his life, thoughts, words, and actions.  This self indeed came to life in our conversion, but we must now cultivate that new self, that new life.  And doing so certainly includes Bible reading and prayer, but it must also include a changed life that reflects the life of Christ.  Being and doing go together in the Christian life.  We must certainly first be, but we must then do.  And when the second does not follow the first, it makes all sincere Christians wonder, and makes for a terrible witness before the world.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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